Finding the place to hit a pinch harmonic

I’m trying to play a lot more pinch harmonics. I know that this means that I have to pluck the string and momentarily touch it with my thumb at 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, or 1/5 of its fretted length. However, the error margin for this is really small, and I’m just not close enough the ideal; I suppose I have trouble figuring out exactly where 1/3 of the string is, for example.

Do you have any practical tips to share with me? One thing that would work is to keep on guessing and adjusting where my hand is, but this doesn’t seem like the right way to go… or is it? Any advice is welcome.

With enough gain and good technique, you can hit them anywhere. Beyond that, I go by feel only and it works out really well, even with low gain. I bet if you just try to hit them repeatedly over a few weeks, you’ll end up hitting them consistently without trying too hard.

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I go by landmarks on the guitar - on my RG, if I’m holding down the 5th fret and play a pinch harmonic at the midpoint between the bridge and neck pickups, it produces a harmonic a perfect 5th (2 octaves higher) above the fretted note. If I do a pinch harmonic about half an inch from the neck pickup, it’s now a major third above. As the fretted note changes, so do those pinch harmonic areas slightly, so it’ll require experimentation beyond that.


I always found this a subconscious ratio of fret hand position and picking position - they kind of move in tandem automatically and I roughly know the position to pinch. It just comes after a few hours of messing around with it.

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As far as I know its all about hitting the nodes of the hamonic series

And when you fret a note they stay the same just get shorter in distance depending how high you’re fretting.

I would say in improvising it’s really hard to keep track of. But if you know you wana hit a harmonic at a certain point it really is just about fretting that note, finding where on the string you need to pinch and memorize it for that particular part of the song.

So memorizeing where it is for that particular note probably is the only simple way. Idk?
I think I see zakk wylde often doing the same pinch harmonics he’s memorized for a certain key, I’ve not really looked into that though.

Once you’re past the 12th fret it’s a lot easier to judge the half way point and roughly go for that one.
That could be a technique to use? Practice judging that halfway pint of your fretted note, that gives you a platform to go a bit away from half way and get others. Gives a starting framework for visualisation atleast.

I wonder if there is a pinch harmonic pedal, just hit the pedal and get a harmonic lol

I also wonder is you could use a decent elastic band and mark it, it would probably stretch to the right points, tho I’m sure it works better in my imagination than real life


Something I used to do was the old raygun effect - pick a fret (eg. 2nd fret g string) and just hammer your finger on and off between the note and the open string and run your picking finger along the string while you are doing it. You will hear all the places where there are harmonics - just memorise where they are - its not so hard because you can just take note of where those spots are in relation to the pickups :slight_smile:

Assuming you have a neck humbucker, try directly over the edge of the neck pickup (the edge that’s closest to the bridge).

For spots that are closer to where I pick, it’s just trial & error leading to muscle memory.